Entertainment Job in Focus: Working in Publicity

working in publicity

Celebrities and major studios have publicity teams to help promote what they are doing – does this career interest you? Find out more

Matt Damon doesn’t call up Ellen Degeneres and ask to come on her show to promote The Martian.

There is no text from Taylor Swift to Jimmy Kimmel saying she’d love to come on and perform ‘Bad Blood’ live in front of his studio audience.

And if Viola Davis wants to re-enact her Emmy speech on the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art, she isn’t setting up a conference call with the Museum curator to arrange the right set-up.

There is a publicity team executing on these tasks, and so much more, behind every brand, whether that is an individual person, a music label, TV or film studio.

If you’ve considered a career in the film, music or TV industries, the idea of working in publicity has probably crossed your mind at some point. So what does it take? And outside of booking guest appearances what does it really mean on a day-to-day basis?

We’ll explain.

Entertainment Job in Focus: Working in Publicity Click To Tweet

Start at the Beginning: Publicity Assistant

To break into this field starts small, possibly as an assistant to a department, but before we get into the nuts and bolts of the role, let’s frame your mind correctly:

  • Publicity departments tend to exist at large organizations and/or big brands. A small independent film studio may hire an agency to promote a project, but they don’t employ a publicity staff. If you want to get started in this side of the business, look to the big organizations to break in.
  • Most of these jobs will involve travel, expect it.
  • Expect to start out or end up in Los Angeles or New York City, sure there are other cities where you can work, but these are the two major hubs.
  • Degrees that prepare you for working in publicity: Public Relations, Communication, Marketing, Journalism

As a publicity assistant you are in a tactical role, helping to execute on someone else’s vision for a project. You aren’t setting strategy, you’re executing it and supporting the higher staff.

  • Admin tasks are at the forefront – answering phones, filing, scheduling. Boring stuff, but remember you are in the thick of things, pay attention and learn from what you see happening around you.
  • Start building a network – publicity is about who you know and who you can get to talk about what your client is doing. Many entry level jobs in publicity focus on blogger identification and outreach – who are people listening to and how do you get your product in front of them? Also, being visual on social media and making a name for yourself is part of the expectation.
  • Media Monitoring – Getting record of who is talking and what they are saying. Using data to understand the impact of a campaign, monitoring social media sentiment. All big parts of the role.

Growing into a Publicity Career

Here is a snippet of expectations from a publicist job opening recently opened on WorkinEntertainment.com:

Publicity team member will work on day-to-day press for various series including:

  1. Booking talk show appearances
  2. Print interviews
  3. Photo shoots
  4. Set visits
  5. Affiliate satellite tours
  6. Radio press junkets and conference calls
  7. Cast appearances
  8. Screenings

It’s clear there are three important traits to be successful in a publicity role – Communication, Organization and Networking.

If you want to work in publicity you better be able to communicate, organize and network Click To Tweet

How well can you plan and organize a series of events for your client? How well can you communicate expectations and change, since nothing ever goes exactly as planned? How many decision makers do you know that are connected to where your client needs to be?

But the job doesn’t end there.

There are times when there isn’t a press junket, or a big release planned, yet there is still much to do. Members of the publicity department work cross-functionally with other departments, namely marketing, social media, programming and design, to help keep the tone of a project consistent across all distribution channels.

Simply put, publicity has a role in many aspects of the business and brand development.  Are you ready for it?

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


  1. Question do you have a collage degree.

  2. Veronika Walton says:

    I have a college degree and I’ve worked with some small named producers in the past as a stage manager and act how can I get my writings noticed?